Coming home from travel – how do budgies react

I was away for almost a week recently for work and since I went across the country time zone changes made it more difficult than usual to check in on the budgies. They were, of course, totally fine with my husband taking care of them! I did wonder how they would react when I got home though, which is probably a concern for any budgie mom or dad that travels.

For me it usually goes one of two ways. In the first option, I get home super excited to see them and they basically ignore me. Totally devastating!  When this happens it takes a few days for them to get back into the rhythm of spending time with me instead of devoting all their attention to their “papa” who took such good care of them. I don’t think they are mad at me when this happens, they just got used to a different way of doing things and I wasn’t a part of it.

Patrick always reports that they are such good babies when I am gone, MUCH more mellow and relaxed. In terms of our budgie parenting styles, he tends to set better boundaries and expects certain behavior from them, whereas I totally encourage them to be close to me and basically treat me like a human play gym.  I also am much more frequently the purveyor of undeserved treats. 

Fortunately this homecoming was the second variety. I got through the door and they instantly start going nuts with excitement. Way more welcoming! I let them out right away and Toby screamed in my face for about four minutes straight. I’m pretty sure she was simultaneously chewing me out for being gone so long and also telling me how psyched she was that I was finally back.

After I got my “talking to” she settled down to preening my nose and hair.

coming home from travelThe next several days everyone was extremely excitable. Even though they had been well-behaved for Patrick they were super willful now that I was back. Getting them in their cages for bed time or whenever we had to leave the house was a nightmare. I totally get it, all I wanted to do was spend time with them too. I think we were all having some mild separation anxiety.

I did some reflecting while on this trip, my work schedule is changing a bit very soon and I’ll be spending more time at the office. Additionally, I have business trips coming up in six out of the next seven months. In between all of that, a couple of close family members are having surgeries in the next month.

I’m not going to stop writing, but I’m going to start posting once a week instead of two. I think it’s the best way to take some pressure off and make sure I can still put up (hopefully) decent quality content, instead of rushing just to make an arbitrary weekly quota.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Getting parakeets back in their cage

Here’s the scene: I’m home alone and the parakeets are spending free time out of their cages. I have a super small house with an open layout, so when they are out they are out everywhere in the house. To put even a finer point on it, my front door doesn’t even have a screen or storm door, when you open it it’s wide open to the terrible world. So – the doorbell rings in this scenario, if I have to open it then I better have a system for getting parakeets back in their cage with haste!

In some instances we’ve gone over and opened the window in the bedroom closest to the front door and yelled out at people, which is very handy when you wouldn’t have wanted to entertain the stranger anyway. But, when it’s a long-awaited package that’s signature required there better be a way to get that door open!

Patrick decided to try training them to go in using this Meditation Chime although I’m sure he could have just used the training clicker. Now that I’m thinking about it – if you found a Doorbell that sounded like yours you could probably literally train them to go in the cage anytime the doorbell rang.

At any rate, what we did was ring the chime, then put the budgies in their cages, shut the door, then ring the chime again and give them a little millet.

In short order, Toby has got it down flat. The Meditation Chime rings and she immediately looks very alert and hauls butt right back to her cage, then stands on the perch she always receives her millet. Kelly is much slower to learn anything, so we’re still working on her after several weeks. But, once Toby is in her cage Kelly tends to be more calm and pliable so it’s easier to step her up and put her home for the night. Kevin is usually already at home in his cage, or happy to go back when Toby does.

The hope is that given enough time, both girls and boy will hear the chime and hop right back into their cages. This would be great for times we unexpectedly need to open the front door, but also just for routine at bed time and convenience.  Time to make dinner, just ring the chime and you’ll be able to preheat the oven no trouble!

With the flock’s current home in the middle of the house, being able to reliably get them into their cage is key. So, hopefully Kelly will get with the program soon. With most parakeets I think you’d have a pretty easy time getting them all to go in their cage using a certain tone or signal.

Tips for budgie names – ideas and themes

Picking out and bringing home your new budgie is very exciting, but choosing a name can feel a bit more daunting. Particularly since budgies live up to 15 years and learn their names very easily, it’s a pretty big responsibility! I find that if you have a theme or a general set of names to chose from choosing a name can be fun, but not overwhelming. Here are my tips for budgie names.

  1. You can always choose names based on color, Toby was almost named Blueberry (Berry for short). There are lots of Kiwis, Clouds, Storms, Sunshines and Rains out there. Not to say they are bad names, in fact I think it’s very cute. You could also go for a scientific cloud or other weather name.
  2. Characters from books or movies. Even if you start with one budgie, and are dead-set that he will be an only bird, you’re probably going to end up with more budgies. That’s just the way it goes. So, if you start with a theme idea you’ll always have names at the ready. Toby, Kelly and Kevin are named after characters from the American TV show The Office. I could name parakeets for the rest of my life based on characters from that show! You could do the same thing with characters from Friends, Harry Potter, Sesame Street, or The Muppets. When you pick a theme like this you have a ton of naming options, but only enough that it feels fun choosing a name, instead of impossible to narrow down.
  3. Similarly, if you’re bringing home a pair of budgies choosing a theme couple name can make life easier. Fortunately, parakeets do not care if their name matches their sex, so you could have a male pair of Thelma & Louise without anyone having an identity crisis. I also like Oscar and Felix, Finn and Jake and Rick & Morty.
  4. If you are adopting an adult bird, please don’t drastically change his name. Budgies learn their names and it becomes part of their identity. Kevin responded to his name within two weeks of being home. In the wild, budgies name each other with certain sounds and use those “names” for the rest of their lives. If you truly can’t stand the name then Thaddeus can become Ted, keeping a familiar sound. Similarly, Jerkface could transition to Jerry much more easily than he could to Nimbus.

Good luck naming your new friend!  No matter what you choose after a while it will seem to suit them perfectly and be part of who they are, so don’t stress over it too much. Every member of our flock had their name chosen before we met them, I think sometimes we chose the birds to fit the names!

A very brief hiatus – next new post 3/9

Folks who are regular readers may have noticed that there’s a method to the posting madness here at Home Keet Home. I typically put up a new blog post every Tuesday and Friday. I find that, for the first time in over a year and a half, I’m going to miss a couple!

I think I’ve mentioned in a few posts that my full time job can occasionally be a full time (plus), and that I do some travel for work. Usually I write posts in advance so there’s no interruptions, but this trip I’m going to try something different.

It’s a joy of mine to interact with people the day that a new post goes up – I find that between comments on the blog and conversation on Facebook and Twitter I’ve usually learned a few things by the end of the day from readers, which I really appreciate!

Since I’ll be in the air today and totally immersed in work on Tuesday, I would miss the chanced to engage about the topic of the day, and I don’t want to a. seem totally disinterested and b. lose out on the opportunity to “talk”. I’ll be back by next Friday’s post, totally exhausted from my trip and trying to snuggle all my flying imps against their will!

missing these babies already!

Cage bar biting budgie – tips for redirection

It shouldn’t have been too surprising, given how much she likes to bite everything, that Kelly turned into a cage bar biting budgie. I could almost tolerate anything better than the clanging, twanging noise of her plucking away at those cage bars!

My first concern (in addition to my sanity) was whether she was safe, I’ve checked the cage every day and she’s not removing any of the finish so I’m not too worried about her eating paint and poisoning herself. I also took stock to make sure I was meeting all of her needs. She is out of her cage for adequate time every day, and even though she can’t live with Toby and Kevin they get time to be together supervised daily as well. She always has clean water and food, and ample variety of toys and perches and enriching experiences.

The bar biting though did seem to be borne out of boredom, even if it was the unwarranted boredom of being in her cage for more than 5 minutes, or settling down to sleep every night. So, I began putting a toy or mineral block or anything she could chew anywhere she went to bite at the bars. The last problem zone was near her sleeping perch, because there wasn’t room for a toy. In that area I painstakingly wove paper strands in between the bars so there would be something to chew at.

woven paper strands to redirect cage bar biting budgieAs far of the rest of the cage, I paved one wall with sea grass mats and toys that we had generally regarded as “too big” when they first arrived.

using big toys to distract cage bar biting budgieIn other places I put cuttle bones or mineral block.

cuttle bone to redirect bar chewing budgieThe overall effect is very busy!

jam-packed with things for a cage bar biting budgie to chew

But, it’s working! It has now been two weeks since Kelly has ruined the household serenity by chewing on her cage bars! The last holdout was the sleep perch area, and those woven paper strands have definitely saved me.

I know those paper strands won’t hold out forever, and I’m so excited to have found this Braided Palm Leaf Rope, which should be easy to weave through the bars and hold up to a lot of abuse.

As far as toys that will cover a lot of bar area, I’m going to have this monster size Seagrass Foraging Wall Toy on deck and load up on Bird Beak Conditioner Blocks

While I can’t say with 100% certainty that this redirection will work for every bar biting budgie, putting a toy or other chew object everywhere she wants to bit the bars helped Kelly redirect her energy. If you’ve met all of your parakeets needs and she is still biting, it’s at least worth a try!

I’m stuck – considering moving the flock to their own room

A while back I made some grand plans about moving the flock to their own room. It seemed like a great way to give them better sleep at night, as well as making their lives safer. It’s true, part of it may have also been so that the humans could use the kitchen at night!

Here’s where I started

what will be the budgie's roomAnd here’s how far I’ve gotten

moving the flockAs you can see, this is definitely not a bird haven! It’s still very much my whole room drying rack. But, I have some very good excuses for why the birds don’t have their own wonderland.

  1. Shortly after I wrote that post Kevin started singing consistently right before bed time, and I got terribly sad thinking about missing that if they were in a room down the hall.
  2. Everyone started a heavy molt and wanted to do nothing but sleep all day and loaf around. It seemed like a bad time to get them excited for anything new, especially a big change that they might find scary.
  3. Toby had a couple of night terrors and I got worried that I wouldn’t hear her in the new room. She tends to have a night terror when there are people still awake so it’s easy to turn up the light a little bit and help her get calmed down.
  4. Patrick pointed out that in that room it will be hard to keep the cages out of the air conditioning flow in summer. Where they are now the vent is directly above their cage and the air flows out so it never hits them directly.
  5. I have a lot of travel coming up for work, and I got worried about them being lonely while I was gone. Patrick takes good care of them, but he doesn’t like to let them out as much as I do. And that’s fine, I don’t expect him to obsess over them like I do. But, I can’t picture him devoting a couple hours a day to hanging out with them in another room, so it’s better if they are in the same room as him not forgetting that humans exist!

I’ll keep you posted, but for now it’s safe to assume the birds are staying put and the humans are still sneaking into the kitchen for a snack every evening.

Budgie morning noise – sleeping in on the weekends

It seems pretty common that flock parents struggle with budgie morning noise. Typically it’s a pure joy to hear the flock trilling away, but at the break of dawn after a late night is another thing entirely! Weirdly, even with the addition of the fantastic singing Kevin to the flock, our mornings are still quiet until at least 8am, if not later.

I think that we’re creating a situation that’s conducive to everyone sleeping until a reasonable hour in a couple of ways.

  1. The parakeets’ cage is not in our bedroom. I don’t recommend placing cages in bedrooms for several reasons, one of which is preserving the quality of your sleep. I bet it’s pretty hard to convince an eager parakeet they should sleep a couple more hours if they see you get up to use the bathroom at 6 in the morning. Keeping cages separate from human sleeping quarters buys you a bit of time before they are aware you’re stirring.
  2. We don’t use a Cage Cover, but all of the windows in the bird zone of the house have Blackout Curtains. Not only do the curtains block almost 100% of the light coming in, but they also help us block drafts. I totally recommend using Blackout Curtains, wherever your birds are. This reminds me that I only have blinds in the room we are moving the birds to, and I really need to get on the ball!

These are the only things I can think of that we do to impact the flock and their likelihood of singing in the early morning hours. So far I don’t think we’ve had a single weekend morning where we’ve been woken up by a pack of singing lunatics. Just this morning I woke Toby up at 8:30am.

I’d love to hear some other tips for keeping mornings calm and sleepy! Or does everyone else like being woken up at the crack of dawn on the weekends and I’m just a lazy bones with equally lazy budgies?